Arth 175 Formal Analysis/Comparison Paper (100 points) Due: to Turnitin and in-class, Thursday, October 27th by 2: 00 pm You are to write a detailed comparison of two works of art in a paper of 3 to 4 pages

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ARTH 175 Formal Analysis/Comparison Paper (100 points)

Due: to Turnitin AND in-class, Thursday, October 27th by 2:00 pm
You are to write a detailed comparison of two works of art in a paper of
3 to 4 pages. (Minimum: 850 words, not including any Works Cited or Title page)

Pick two works from Chapters 1 through 7 in the textbook that have a thematic link and that you think would make an interesting comparison. Choose images reproduced in color. These should be works that we have not compared at length in class. (For instance, a comparison between a Greek kouros figure and the Egyptian statue of Menkaure and his Queen would not be allowed. If you are concerned about your choice of comparison, discuss it with me well ahead of the deadline.)
Pick works that appeal to you and spend some time looking at them. The works should have some basic elements in common but may be from different time periods. They should also be made from the same basic medium. (For example, compare a painting to another painting, or a painting to a mosaic. Compare a sculpture to another sculpture. You may be able to compare a 2D work to a relief sculpture - however, check with me first for appropriateness.)
The comparison should be based primarily on your own observations: What do you see? What are the characteristics of technique, style, media, use of line, values, color, etc? (At least 2/3 of the paper should be comprised of this kind of comparison, and your formal analysis should use appropriate visual terminology. Review the introductory chapter material on formal analysis, if needed).
If appropriate, a comparison of cultural similarities and differences may supplement your observational comparison, but should be no more than 1/3 of the total of the paper.
NOTE: You may do additional background research on the works you've chosen, but it is not required. If you do additional research, you will have to provide a Works Cited page for those outside resources, and include endnotes for in-text cited references.
The content of your paper should include:

  • Introduction (Be sure to address WHY this is a valid and interesting comparison to you)

  • Background/description of works -

    • Identify the works by title and give the page number in the text book (there is no need to provide an illustration). Follow the conventions used in the textbook illustration captions, i.e: italicize the title of the artwork if it is italicized in the textbook!

    • Give a description of the physical structure and/or surface: color, composition, medium, dimensions, etc.

    • Give a description of the subject matter: (what is being portrayed? What is the meaning of it?)

  • Similarities and differences between the two items (Thematic, technique, formal, etc)

  • Conclusion

October 27th - hard copy in class AND to by 2:00 p.m.

If you do not submit BOTH versions of your paper - on time – you will earn no higher than 60% on the assignment. The deadline is 2:00 pm on the day your paper is due in class. 2:01 pm is a late submission.
Early submissions are allowed and encouraged. If you are absent on the due date, your paper will only be accepted late with a doctor's note. No other exceptions will be given - don't even ask.

Helpful hint: Take the time to submit to before you print your final hard copy!


  • Not following the following guidelines will count against your grade. Please read the assignment carefully, and use this checklist to avoid simple mistakes that will hurt your grade.

  • Before you begin to write, consult A Short Guide to Writing about Art by Sylvan Barnet - the recommended second text for this class. It is on reserve at Dacus if you do not have a copy. It includes good information and examples about comparative essay writing.

  • Papers must be at least 850 words, which is equivalent to about 3 pages. If you go slightly over 4 pages, that is ok, but I will stop reading after 5 pages. Excessive length will not improve your grade, but good writing will. If the paper does not meet the minimum length the highest grade possible is a 60 (a D-).

  • Do not use first person ("I think... I feel that...). Even though the comparison is based largely on your observations, it should be written in formal academic third person language.

  • Your introduction should include exactly what your paper is going to be about (a topic sentence). If your paper is not primarily a comparison of two works of art based on your own observations, you will earn a 0 on the assignment.

  • If the artist(s) of your artwork is known, do not write more than one paragraph about the artist's biographical information.

  • Use MLA formatting and citation. Consult the Prentice Hall guide or another reference for reference and examples of properly formatted and cited papers.

  • If you include additional research, the Works Cited page does not count as one of the pages. If you only use the textbook, do not include a Works Cited page, HOWEVER:

    • You must cite both direct quotes and paraphrased ideas from any author, including Laurie Schneider Adams, the author of our textbook. Use the MLA in-text citation style. Any unacknowledged inclusions in your paper will be considered plagiarized. By the same token, DO NOT ADD AN ENDNOTE OR CITATION TO EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE IN YOUR PAPER! When you do this, you are not providing any of your original thinking, which is primarily what I am interested in.

  • The only acceptable fonts are 12 pt. Times or Times New Roman. Typing will be double-spaced. The cover page includes your title, your name, my name, and the date - nothing else. Each subsequent page should be numbered, and include your last name. The cover page does not count towards the 3-page minimum.

  • Spelling and grammar will count. Spell-check and have your essay read by someone else for errors and inconsistencies in logic and style. Spell-check again!

  • Your final paper should be turned in stapled in the upper left corner - no plastic covers.

  • Please take advantage of the Writing Center here on campus, which was created to assist you in this kind of assignment. Students who consult the Writing Center, and include a copy of their appointment slip stapled to the last page of the essay, will receive an automatic 3 extra credit points.


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